Drug and Alcohol Policy

To be read in conjunction with

Drug and Alcohol SOP

Approval Date
1 June 2020
Approved By
Chief Executive
Next Review
30 November 2022
Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety
Baldrige Criteria
Workforce focus

In line with the expectations of many New Zealand industries and organisations, Otago Polytechnic Limited (Ltd) has implemented this policy to ensure the health and safety of all learners, staff, contractors, and visitors, while conducting Otago Polytechnic activities.

Many of Otago Polytechnic Ltd’s activities involve high risk situations where clear thinking, decision making, and machinery operation need to be conducted safely. These activities cannot be compromised. Otago Polytechnic Ltd has zero tolerance for the misuse or abuse of alcohol and/or illicit drugs, possession and/or use of illicit drugs/substances, or intoxication on all campuses/learning sites.

Note: Otago Polytechnic Ltd will only act if it believes a reasonable cause exists.  E.g.:  if an employee, learner, contractor or visitor’s actions and behaviours suggest they may be under the influence of alcohol of drugs.


Statutory Compliance:

Standards/Codes of Practice


For the purposes of this policy, the following definitions apply:

Alcohol:  Alcoholic drink, including spirits, wine, and beer.

Drugs and controlled drugs:  As defined by the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and any subordinate legislation, including, but not limited to, illegal drugs such as steroids, amphetamines, opiates, cannabis, and synthetic cannabinoid.

Hazard:  An activity, arrangement, circumstance, event, occurrence, phenomenon, process, situation, or substance, (whether arising or caused within or outside a place of work) that is an actual or potential cause or source of harm; and includes:

  • A situation where a person’s actions and or behaviour may be an actual (or potential) cause (or source) of harm to the person or another person; and
  • Without limitation, a situation described above resulting from physical or mental fatigue, drugs, alcohol, traumatic shock, or any other temporary condition that affects a person’s actions and/or behaviour.

Negative Result:  Results from any alcohol and/or drug test which are below the thresholds and limits on the testing devices.

Non-negative (unconfirmed positive) Result:  Results from any alcohol and/or drug test where the initial test results are above the thresholds and limits on the testing devices. The individual must be removed from Safety Sensitive Activities until the individual can provide a negative test result.

Positive Result:  A recorded second test above the threshold of the alcohol and/or drug test limits within this policy, therefore confirming that the individual is impaired and is to be removed from Safety Sensitive Activities until the individual can provide a negative test result.

Prescription Medication:   Any medication formally prescribed to an individual named on the packaging by a medical practitioner with clear directions for use and taken in accordance with directions for use.

Reasonable Cause Testing:  Staff, learner or contractor who has displayed certain characteristics and is in an area identified as a Safety Sensitive Area will be required to undergo an approved method of testing.

Sanctioned Function:  A function on Otago Polytechnic Ltd premises, approved and endorsed by Formal Leader or member of Executive Leadership Team, where staff, learners, contractors, and visitors are invited, and alcohol is provided (purchased or supplied). Examples include but are not limited to Otago Polytechnic Ltd functions, Art shows, and informal functions. Refer to policy Staff Functions.

Safety Sensitive Activity:  An activity action or decision that has potential to cause serious harm to any person if the staff member, learner, contractor, or visitor is impaired by drugs or alcohol.


1.     This policy applies to all learners, staff, contractors, and visitors undertaking work, study, or contract activities at Otago Polytechnic, on field trips, on placement or work experience, or while representing Otago Polytechnic Ltd on any business.

2.     With reference to alcohol and drugs the following are not acceptable actions or behaviours for learners, staff, contractors, and visitors:

2.1.      Participating in any safety sensitive activity, operating machinery, or driving an Otago Polytechnic vehicle, their own or a hire vehicle on Otago Polytechnic Ltd business while impaired by alcohol, or illegal drugs, or while on a course of prescribed medication if such activities are against medical advice and/or where there is a risk of serious injury while being so impaired.

2.2.      Introducing, consuming or possessing a controlled drug or alcohol, or any prescription medication not prescribed to the individual on, or in, any Otago Polytechnic Ltd campus learning, accommodation facility, or in any situation where learners are under supervision of an academic staff member, or on placement.

2.2.1. The exceptions are alcohol for Otago Polytechnic Ltd sanctioned functions approved and endorsed by Formal Leaders or Executive Leadership Team, or for alcohol related studies in the Hospitality programmes.

3.     By accepting the terms and conditions of employment or signing their enrolment form, staff and learners are deemed to have agreed to this policy.

4.     By signing the contract conditions and undertaking a contractor induction programme, contractors are deemed to have agreed to this policy.

5.     If learners are taking any prescribed drugs or medications which are known to exhibit side effects, and/or impair performance, they are encouraged to discuss this, in confidence, with their Lecturer, Student Services, Te Punaka Ōwheo, Otago Polytechnic Student Association (OPSA) or Otago Polytechnic Ltd Safety and Wellbeing Manager at the earliest opportunity so course- related activities they undertake may be assessed appropriately.

6.     If a member of staff is taking any prescribed drugs or medication which are known to exhibit side effects, and/or impair performance, they are encouraged to discuss this, in confidence with their Formal Leader, Otago Polytechnic Ltd Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety, or delegate, at the earliest opportunity so work related activities may be assessed appropriately.


Testing and Types of Testing
7.     Staff, learner and contractor privacy and confidentiality will be observed to best endeavours.

8.     Otago Polytechnic Ltd’s testing regime applies to any applicable activity and:

8.1.      Where reasonable cause is suspected

8.2.      Legislative requirements allow

8.3.      Post incident or accident or serious near miss, while undertaking any work or study activity and where the staff member, learner, or contractor’s actions may have contributed to the accident/incident or serious near miss.

9.     All testing will be conducted by an external accredited agency:

9.1.      The breath alcohol test will be conducted using an approved testing device which meets Australian Standard AS 3547-1997 “Breath Alcohol Testing Devices for Personal Use”, and a positive test result will occur when current New Zealand drink driving laws are exceeded.

9.2.      Drug testing will be conducted by either saliva or urine test and will meet the Australian/New Zealand Standard AS/NZS 4308:2008 “Procedures for specimen collection and the detection and qualifications of drug abuse in urine”, or any later versions.

9.3.      An Otago Polytechnic Ltd staff member, trained by an external agency in reasonable cause identification, in conjunction with the Programme Head / Formal Leader must agree that testing is justified before any testing can occur.

9.4.      Otago Polytechnic Ltd staff will not be trained in how to conduct tests.

10.  An individual will be offered the opportunity to have a representative of their union, or a support person present during any testing process. The unavailability of a representative or support person cannot unduly delay the tests being performed.

11.  Costs of all alcohol and drug testing undertaken as part of this policy will be covered by Otago Polytechnic Ltd.

Receiving information or identifying reasonable cause

12.       If a member of staff or a learner:

12.1.  Suspects someone is impaired by alcohol and/or drugs; or

12.2.  Is advised by a credible source that the member of staff, learner, contractor, or visitor may be working under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs; or

12.3.  Observes or is informed by an observer, a member of staff, learner, contractor or visitor, misusing alcohol, and/or misusing prescribed medication, and/or using, possessing or distributing illegal drugs; are to make contact with their Formal Leader who will follow procedures outlined in SOP.  The Formal Leader will also engage with an appropriate member of senior staff, being Executive Leadership Team, Head of College, Programme Head, Service Area Leader, and Otago Polytechnic Ltd Director: Safety and Wellbeing.

13.       Once reasonable cause has been established, or post incident, accident or serious near miss, and in order to further assist with achieving the objectives set out in this policy, Otago Polytechnic Ltd reserves the right to undertake the search or inspection of any staff members or learner’s property located within Otago Polytechnic Ltd campuses inclusive of all Otago Polytechnic Ltd accommodation premises. .

13.1.  For the avoidance of doubt, by bringing personal property onto Otago Polytechnic Ltd premises, a staff member, learner, or contractor is deemed to have consented to their property being searched or inspected in accordance with this policy.

13.2.  Otago Polytechnic Ltd may employ specialist drug detection technology and/or a drug detection dog team to conduct a search of a campus and/or accommodation premises. If the dog or equipment indicates recent possession and/or use of drugs by a staff member, learner, or contractor then Otago Polytechnic Ltd may require that person to undergo drug testing in accordance with this policy.

14.       Otago Polytechnic Ltd operates electronic surveillance equipment (CCTV) within its premises (refer to policy CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) at Otago Polytechnic) and this may be used when investigating suspected drug and/or alcohol related activity.


Refusal to take an alcohol and/or drug test
15.       The staff member, learner, or contractor, under reasonable cause on a first occasion may use their discretion to leave the Polytechnic premises for the remainder of the day and return to work/study the following day without further question.

15.1.  In the event of any repeat occurrence under reasonable cause within eighteen (18) months Otago Polytechnic Ltd will require the member of staff, learner of contractor to undertake alcohol and/or drug testing.

16.       For a test being conducted due to an accident/incident, the staff member, learner, or contractor must complete the test. There is no option for the individual to absent themselves on the first occasion as described in clause 13.

17.       If a staff member, learner or contractor is requested to take a drug and/or alcohol test in accordance with this policy, and refuses to do so they will be required to explain why they are refusing the test to Otago Polytechnic Ltd Te Kaihāpai for learners, or Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety for staff and contractors

18.       Otago Polytechnic Te Kaihāpai for learners, or Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety for staff and contractors, in considering the explanation, may deem that the explanation is unreasonable in the circumstance, then either the person will be required to take the test or face disciplinary action in accordance with appropriate Otago Polytechnic Ltd policy if they continue to refuse.


Preventative education and representation:
19.       Otago Polytechnic Ltd will provide an education programme to staff, learners and contractors during their Health and Safety Induction and educational staff and learner forums to raise the awareness of the contents of this policy, the process that will be followed during testing, and the support services available to staff and learners.


Cheating on an alcohol and/or drug test
20.       If a staff member, learner, or contractor cheats when taking an alcohol and/or drug test, or the person conducting the test has reasonable grounds to suspect that the specimen has been tampered with, Otago Polytechnic Ltd may take disciplinary action against the staff member, or contractor in accordance with appropriate Otago Polytechnic Ltd policies, and this may be considered as serious misconduct.


Actions resulting from breach of policy
21.       If this policy is breached (including but not limited to a non-negative test result) and at the discretion of the Te Kaihāpai for learners, or Deputy Chief Executive: People, Culture and Safety for staff and contractors, the action taken may include but is not limited to, suspension from work or study activities, removal from the premises, and/or revised study or employment agreements.


22.       Otago Polytechnic Ltd recognises that alcohol and drug abuse come in many guises and in extreme cases may be considered an illness. If test results are positive for alcohol and/or drugs, all staff and learners will be offered assistance and/or referral for counselling for alcohol and/or drug related issues and/or addiction, if deemed appropriate. In all cases discussions will be kept confidential.

23.       If a member of staff or a learner voluntarily wishes to seek help, then Otago Polytechnic Ltd will also support this.

23.1.  Staff are encouraged to seek help using Employee Assistance Programme (EAP).

23.2.  All learners are encouraged to seek assistance from Health and Counselling Services and/or Student Success.

24.       If a contractor voluntarily wishes to seek help then Otago Polytechnic Ltd will direct them to the nearest external support agency, however no financial assistance will be provided.

25.       Staff and learners may be required to undertake clearance testing for alcohol and/or drugs where they have been away from work or programme activities as part of the rehabilitative programme at any time for the following twelve (12) months of employment, or study, and are required to maintain clear results.

26.       All information that is gathered about a member of staff, learner, or contractor for the purpose of compliance with this policy (including test results) will be treated as personal and confidential. The collection, storage and use of such information by Otago Polytechnic Ltd will comply with the Privacy Act 2020 and all subsequent amendments.

26.1.  The staff, learner, or contractor will be provided with a copy of their results of any testing.

26.2.  No information relating to any testing or rehabilitation will be disclosed to an external party without the written consent of the staff member concerned.

26.3.  Records will be destroyed after eighteen (18) months from date of test.

27.       Nothing in this policy prevents Otago Polytechnic Ltd from involving New Zealand Police where that is deemed appropriate.



Otago Polytechnic Ltd policies including but not limited to:

  • Programme Entry, Continuation and Exclusion
  • Student Discipline
  • Resolution of Student Complaints
  • Student Support
  • Staff Functions
  • CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) at Otago Polytechnic MP0402 Health and Safety Induction and Training
  • Hazard Management

megan gibbons signature

Approved by:
Dr. Megan Gibbons
Chief Executive